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Nancy Pelosi took the stage at Cohen Auditorium on the Tufts campus Friday afternoon with the federal budget in gridlock in Washington.
"Minute to minute, hour to hour, we're getting reports," Pelosi said. "As long as we don't have to take something to the floor, I can be with you right now."
Pelosi was the guest for the inaugural Alan D. Solomont lecture. She took the stage shortly after 2 p.m. Friday, gave a brief speech, then answered questions from Solomont, a Tufts alumnus who is the U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra.
The issues holding back the federal budget have been narrowed to about a half dozen, including funding for planned parenthood and clean air/clean energy programs, Pelosi said.
"There were 50, then there were 25, now it's down to about six areas of policy disagreement," Pelosi said. "The policy issues don't really belong in this kind of bill, but nonetheless, they are there."
"You really can't split the difference if splitting the difference means half the kids are going to be thrown off Head Start, but not the full number, or that half the home-bound seniors will lose meals," Pelosi said. "...You can't just talk about dollars -- you have to talk about values."
The House minority leader spoke out against a government shutdown.
"It's really unfair to the American people," Pelosi said. "It will create a level of payouts that is unworthy, if it were to shut down. It's not a tactic or a strategy that is worthy of the aspirations of the American people."
Looking forward to 2012 elections, Pelosi called for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground when it comes to values.
"Try to make sure that the values that I'm sure we all share are reflected in the choice you make," Pelosi said. "Another I way I would say to my Republican friends: Take back your party, so it doesn't matter so much who wins the election because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, have civil liberties, how we respect our seniors."
Before leaving the stage, Pelosi was presented with some Red Sox apparel for her grandchildren and a stuffed Tufts Jumbos elephant.
Pelosi's visit to the Boston area continued with a visit to the National Conference for Media Reform later on Friday.